Wednesday, 20 July 2016

20 Jul: Evening ride to Hemingford Abbots

Nigel writes: Today had been a very hot day in Cambridge. The temperature during the afternoon had been almost 30C, and when I set off to Brookside for tonight's evening ride it was still around 26C: still hot. I wasn't sure whether this would cause the turnout to be large or small; in the event there were seven of us. At Brookside I was joined by Matilda, Andrew and Neil; at the Green Dragon Bridge in Chesterton we were joined by Ray and newcomer Dimitris, and after joining the busway at Nuffield Road we picked up Paul by Orchard Park.

On the busway

As we continued north towards Oakington we encountered puddles of water; Paul explained that there had been a downpour about an hour earlier, though we had seen no sign of this in Cambridge other than a patch of dark sky.

There was a slight headwind as we rode along, but with the temperature still in the mid-20s this was not unwelcome. After having suffered some stiflingly hot indoor temperatures earlier in the day it was really nice to be outside in more moderate conditions with a refreshing cooling breeze.

We continued along the busway to St Ives where we joined the Thicket Path to Houghton. This was as pretty as always, though the recent rain had combined with the fallen blossom that always lies on the path to create a rather slippery and messy mulch.

Approaching Houghton on the Thicket Path, with Paul shielding his eyes from the glare of the low sun

At Houghton Mill we wheeled our bikes past the mill and over the lock (where a group of local teenagers were cooling off by jumping off the bridge into the water) and onto the Ouse Meadows towards Hemingford Abbots.

Crossing the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots

We arrived at the Axe and Compass at about 8.15pm. We ordered drinks and food which, for the first time this year, we were able to enjoy sitting outside.

At The Axe and Compasses, Hemingford Abbots

We were at the pub for almost an hour - rather longer than usual but it was such a pleasant evening that I think none of us were in a rush to head home and we were happy to sit chatting instead.

We set off for home at about 9.15pm, just before sunset, returning via Hemingford Grey to St Ives and then back along the busway. The temperature by now had fallen to a very pleasant 20C and with the wind behind us this time our pace increased slightly, but no-one felt a need to sprint. As the light gradually declined, a huge moon appeared ahead of us, adding to our pleasure on what we all agreed was a delightful ride back. We continued to Cambridge and I arrived home at 10.20pm, having cycled 58km (36 miles).

Download GPS track (GPX).

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